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Greg BluesteinTamar Hallerman
Jim Galloway

N.C.’s ‘bathroom law’ proves a drag on GOP Gov. Pat McCrory

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In this April file photo, protesters head for a sit-in against House Bill 2 in Raleigh, N.C. Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP

In this April file photo, protesters head for a sit-in against House Bill 2 in Raleigh, N.C. Chuck Liddy/The News & Observer via AP

A Monmouth University poll of North Carolina voters showed the presidential contest tightening into a statistical dead heat between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

The same survey gives Republican incumbent Richard Burr an “insignificant lead” over Democrat Deborah Ross in that state’s U.S. Senate race.logo-all

But it’s the North Carolina race for governor that’s the surprise. Democrat Roy Cooper, currently the state attorney general, has a nine-point lead over Republican incumbent Pat McCrory. The state’s new “bathroom law” is the likely culprit. From the Monmouth website:

A majority of voters (55%) disapprove of HB2 compared to fewer than 4-in-10 (36%) who approve of HB2.  Among voters who approve of the law, 74% are backing McCrory in the governor’s race.  Among those who disapprove of it, 72% are voting for Cooper.

“McCrory is trying to take control of the HB2 debate with a new TV ad.  As of right now, though, North Carolina voters feel it has hurt the state, which is helping Cooper’s bid to unseat the incumbent,” said [Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute.].

The Monmouth University Poll found that 7-in-10 voters (70%) feel the passage of HB2 has been bad for North Carolina’s reputation nationally.  Only 9% say it has been good for the state’s image and just 14% say it has had no impact.  Even among those who approve of the law itself, 41% say HB2 has been bad for the state’s reputation compared to 21% who say it has been good and 28% who say it has had no impact.

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Speaking of the that North Carolina law: Maya Dillard Smith is the former head of the Georgia chapter of the ACLU. She left the organization in the aftermath of the debate over that state’s transgender bathroom law.

Dillard Smith has an op-ed out today, a reaction to the decision by a federal judge in Texas to block a set of “guidelines” issued by the Obama Administration to public schools on how transgender students should be treated. A taste:

The Obama directive is not only a financial coercion and commandeering of the states, it is also a violation of the federal Administrative Procedures Act (APA) rule-making process which protects the rights of all US citizens to participate in the “notice and comment” period.  The notice and comment” rule-making requirement is a perquisite to issuing new rules even if there is a clever wordplay that calls the directives, “guidelines.”

Each of the 50 states also has a state-level “notice and comment” requirement for agency rule-making and legislative processes. The Obama Administration’s failure to follow the rules, is a concern echoed by many administrative law experts and constitutional scholars like myself as a violation of the public’s due process rights.

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The price was $10,000 a pop for a picture with former President Bill Clinton at a swanky fundraiser in Atlanta on Wednesday evening. But a few hours earlier, for a few dozen diners at Manuel’s Tavern,  the selfie was free.

Before he mounted a lengthy defense of the Clinton Foundation, the Democrat spent more than 30 minutes at the iconic (and newly-renovated) Atlanta eatery/drinkery, gabbing with just about everyone in the building, from gadflies at the bar to kitchen staff in the back.

Among the Democrats we spotted was former state Rep. Doug Teper, Atlanta Board of Education member Matt Westmoreland and strategists Seth Cansler Clark and Stefan Turkheimer.

Oh, and there was Megan Bartlett and her husband Arthur Rice. The couple met while working at Manuel’s and were conveniently seated near the entrance, with their newborn daughter Hannah in hand. It was like catnip for the former president, who made a beeline to the young family:

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Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was interviewed by CNN’s Anderson Cooper last night. It was her first sit-down with the media since July. Watch it here. This exchange may rate as the most interesting:

Cooper: Why was it okay for the Clinton Foundation to accept foreign donations when you were secretary of state, but it wouldn’t be okay if you were president?

Clinton: Well, what we did when I was secretary of state, as I said, went above and beyond anything that was required anything that any charitable organization has to do. Now obviously if I am president there will be some unique circumstances and that’s why the foundation has laid out additional, unprecedented steps …

Cooper: But didn’t those unique circumstances exist when you were secretary of state?

Clinton: …  No, no. You know, look, Anderson, I know there’s a lot of smoke and there’s no fire. This [Associated Press] report? Put it in context, excludes nearly 2,000 meeting I had with world leaders, plus countless other meetings with U.S. government officials when I was secretary of state. It looked at a small portion of my time….

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The New York Times today has an Atlanta-based look at Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s message to African-Americans — that they have nothing to lose by supporting him. One paragraph:

“I hear him not talking to black people, but talking to white people about black people so they will think he cares about black people,” said Alexis Scott, a former publisher of The Atlanta Daily World, a black-owned newspaper. “The real thing that he’s trying to do is to try to protect some of the white vote by suggesting to them that he cares.”

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Next Monday’s visit to Atlanta by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Republican nominee for vice president, will also include a visit to middle Georgia.

The Macon Telegraph reports that Pence has lined up former Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue to meet him during his stop. Perdue told the newspaper he “wholeheartedly, unashamedly and unabashedly” endorses the Donald Trump.

We’ve also picked up word, though details are scarce, that Pence might also tack a public rally onto his Atlanta stop.

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Hillary Clinton’s campaign is stepping up its surrogate game in Georgia. Former South Carolina state Rep. Bakari Sellers, vice chair of the state’s Democratic Party, will host a meet and greet just south of the state line on Thursday at Savannah State University.

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Emory University political scientist Alan Abramowitz has some prognostication over at Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball, forecasting a 14-seat gain for Democrats in the U.S. House, and a four-seat pick-up in the U.S. Senate – “not enough to flip control of the House but enough to flip control of the Senate if Clinton wins the presidential election.”